Read Scripture

So you’ve decided that you are going to read the bible.  Awesome!  I am excited for you to encounter God’s Word and be transformed.

So let’s move from good intentions and hope to being intentional and having a plan.  Most people are familiar with a plan that has you reading through the whole bible in a year.  This is not a bad idea and will give you some acquaintance with all the books of the bible.  There are a plethora of reading plans you can find on the LifeChurch bible app (one of the cool things about this app is that you can have it read it to you so that you can listen to Scripture as you drive or workout).  Currently, I am using and enjoying the read Scripture app developed with Francis Chan.  It has some great introductory videos to the different books and themes of the bible.  I also love the Bible Project’s videos they have created to help you understand the big picture of whatever book of the bible you are reading.  I will typically watch their video before I begin to read any particular book.

The danger of the “read through the bible in a year plan” is that we read the bible just to read it.  Rather than seeing Scripture as a place where we encounter God, have a conversation with Him, submit our lives in obedience to Him, and become transformed by His grace; we read the bible to say we read the whole bible.  I think these plans have their place (I am doing one right now), but also think that we need to use these kinds of plans to supplement and fortify another kind of bible reading.

The other kind of bible reading I am speaking about is to see your bible reading time as a time to meet with God.  Think of the bible as the coffee shop where you go daily to meet with God.  Rather than trying to “get through” your bible reading, take your time and walk slowly through the verses listening intently for God to speak with you.  When a certain verse catches your mind, pause and think about it.  What is God revealing about His character or His nature?  What is God trying to say to me?  Is there a sin God is pointing out, a promise he wants me to claim, a command to obey, an example to follow or avoid?  Let God search your life, activities,  attitudes, and beliefs to discover how he may be directing your transformation through this particular word.

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Here is what this pattern of bible reading looks like.

I sit down with my bible, my journal, and my pen and ask the Holy Spirit to open my eyes and my ears to God.  I acknowledge that apart from Him that I cannot discern the things of God (If you listen to your Scripture as you drive or use some other means of hearing God’s Word, then modify the following thoughts in a way that works for you.)

WRITE DOWN THE DATE IN MY JOURNAL

I begin reading Scripture slowly, not to “get through as much as possible”, but to listen for a word, a phrase, or a verse that catches my attention in some way.  When I find that which catches my attention, I read enough of the verses before and after so that I understand this verse in context and what it meant to those who first heard it.

WRITE DOWN THE VERSE

I think about the word or verse and what it means to me.  What does this say about who God is?  How does this apply to my life?  What is God saying to me?  Here is where I enter into a very personal conversation with God.  I ask Him to speak into my life and to bring to mind areas of my life that I haven’t considered.  I talk to Him.  If I am to become obedient to what He is revealing, how will my life be changed?  While words cannot express what God impresses upon my heart in these times, I try to write down some brief observations and application.

WRITE DOWN MY OBSERVATION AND SOME APPLICATION TO MY LIFE

 I close my time by responding to God in prayer.  I thank him for speaking to me through His word and express my trust in His power to bring about that which He has  revealed.

WRITE DOWN A BRIEF PRAYER

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Let me give you some concrete examples from my own journal of what this looks like for me.  Here are a couple of older entries from my journal.  It looks like this except that it is handwritten and illegible except to me.

July 8, 2010

Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the LORD’s support and say, “Is not the LORD among us? No disaster will come upon us.”  Micah 3:11

The religious leaders motivations were off.  They were in careers.  The were speaking to please people .  They were working for people and not God.  They thought they were safe because they were “God’s people.”  Who am I working to please?  God, I hear your warning about how easy it is for my calling to become a career path.

Lord, you set me free so that I could know you.  You set me free for faithfulness.  You set me free for holiness.  Now let me love you and serve you both now and forever.  I love you, Jeff

February 4, 2013

He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.  Acts 11:24

Barnabus knew how to blow on a little coal and stir it into a fire.  He is a testament to the power of encouragement.  This is not always my gift.  I am too often quick to see what is wrong and too slow to see what is good in others.

Lord, forgive me when I have seen with such shallow eyes.  Allow your encouraging Spirit to flow through me.  Let me be someone who brings out the best in others.  Help me to see as you see and to bring out what is good and holy and true.  Not by my power, but by yours.  I love you, Jeff.

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So, let’s make a plan!

Step 1:  I need a regular time and place.  I think there is great wisdom in starting your day with God, but each of us has to decide the time for ourselves.  It also helps to have a specific place where you go for this time on a daily basis.

Ex.  I will be at the kitchen table from 6:10am until 6:30am on Monday through Friday for my bible time beginning on January 2, 2017.

Step 2:  Gather the materials you will need and keep them in handy place.  You will need three things:  a bible (I recommend the NIV Study Bible), a journal (can be as simple as a notebook or as fancy as the ones you buy at Books a Million), and a pen.

Ex.  I will place my bible, journal, and pen on the nightstand by January 1, 2017.

Step 3:  Decide what you are going to read.  I would encourage you to start in the New Testament.  Pick one book and work all the way through it.  I would not encourage the flip and dip method of opening up the bible and just reading wherever it lands.  Some of my favorite places to begin would be John, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and James.

Ex.  I will begin with the book of James.  Before January 2, I will read the introduction to James in my study bible and I will read completely through the book one time in one sitting to get a sense of the whole book.

Step 4:  Tell somebody.  Or even better, find an accountability partner that will join you on the journey and meet on some type of regular basis to share how God is speaking to you through these times.

Ex. I will invite Peter, James, and John to join me on this journey and we will meet every other week at 6:30 am for coffee to discuss how we are doing on the journey and how God has been speaking to us.  Our first meeting will be January 9, 2017.

Step 5:  Expect opposition, disruption, interruption, and a need for fresh starts.  You will not be given this time, you will have to wrestle it into submission.  You will have to fight for it.  On the days that you miss or things go crazy, take a breath, don’t listen to your enemy who accuses you and discourages you, and allow God to give you a fresh start on the next day.

I’d love to hear from you as you start this journey.  Let me know your questions, your joys, your struggles, or your concerns.  Pastors love helping people learn to hear God personally!!!  Email me at jeff@gracefs.com.

 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:16-17